Bolly bosses it at Tweseldown ODE despite “The Rusty Granny”!

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10 hours, 2 bits of toast, and several buckets of water later and we have completed our first ODE of the season! yay!

After the disappointment of not going XC at our last ODE I entered Tweseldown ODE as I know the sandy soil is always good and with a little rain a few days before the ground was on point.

Dressage warm up was a bit of a stress as my hat couldn’t be tagged due to the inside safety spec being unreadable (sweaty hair will do that apparently!) so in full comp gear and 25 degrees I ran back to the lorry to get my HS1. Not the best or most relaxing start to the warm up but with what time we had left we ran through the test before going in.

Bolly did a sweet test just one error when I tried to collect him as we headed downhill in canter and needed to come back to trot and my aids were not clear and his skills are too advanced for me so he threw in a flying change instead….show off! Despite that the rest of the test was good (not as good as recent tests I thought, but still good) apart from possibly the most wonky halt we’ve ever done! I was thinking it was probably around 66-68%…..WRONG!….37.3 aka 62.7%. I was a bit….huh?….it seemed like a hard marked test, especially considering our last two outings have resulted in 70.5% and 73%….who knows…..dressage is magical voodoo after all. We were about 5th from the bottom with that test. I didn’t know this though, so in my bubble of ignorance I headed to the show jumping.

The course was causing quite a few problems, and I hadn’t been able to walk it so just the usual 3 practice fences and in we went. Bolly is an absolute dream jumping and what used to be my weakest and most nerve wracking phase has now become my strongest thanks to him. The fences were all up to height and super fancy looking! I got a little too hand focused a couple of times but I tried really hard to fight my bad habit of backing off with my legs and taking up too much contact with my hands. I tried to keep back off his shoulders and soft through the hand. You can see on the windmill fence pic that my wrist is sort of bent in…..gah bad habit be gone!

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It’s like I have a split personality when under pressure in an arena, half of me wants to ride well and knows what to do, but it’s fighting another half of me that knows how to mess things up and make mistakes. I think though….on balance “good riding Chloe” is getting the better of “bad riding Chloe” and someday soon I hope she will be a thing of the past!

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Clear with no time pens and Bolly totally bossed it! He’s such a dude and I couldn’t be happier. That’s 2 clears in a row from the “dream machine”. Muchos pats and polos ensued.

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XC was 50mins delayed due to the 80cms sections earlier in the day having lots of issues. I hopped off and we just chilled standing in the warm up chatting to the other competitors. A lady in blue XC colours and I started running through the course together until we got to the log pile and she said “and then the double” and I said “and then the brush”….we looked at each other…..we looked at the course….we looked at the rider coming back to the last fences and sure enough they jumped over the log pile, double, brush…….Bugggggggggggggggger I thought! I haven’t walked that, I missed it!!!

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Thanks to the delay I managed to throw the reins at Mummy Groom and go on another impromptu run down to that fence to walk the line and get it in my head.

Side note: I am not built for sprinting and in full XC gear it is not my fave pastime!!!

Back to the XC warm up, popped 3 fences, and walked down to the start box. 35 seconds….Bolly is hyped…..30 seconds….I’ve managed to convince him that nothing exciting is about to happen….15 seconds….he doesn’t believe me…..10 seconds…..he’s 100% convinced something mega is about to happen….5…4..3..2..1….and we’re off.

Turns out that after several years away from the game and only going XC schooling means you feel rusty as heck when back out on a proper course! Full credit to Bolly for bringing the talent as there were times round the track where I felt like a complete novice. I managed to steer and leave him to it for the most part, just intervening spectacularly badly at the log pile on the video, what a long shot! Then the double of logs that I forgot to walk, burying him under the first part….urgh the shame! He thankfully jumped us out and I just stayed well out of his way for the final 3 fences. Home and clear!

I need to get out cantering and working on my 2 point balance and sense of pace so that’s homework for the next few weeks sorted. We were 22 seconds too slow, my fault for too much setting up etc but nothing we can’t improve on, once the XC cobwebs have been blown away. That incurred us 8.8 time penalties which sadly was the difference between placing 6th and dropping to 15th…..gah! I’m still super stoked about our performance, seeing as I don’t ride him every day as I’m only supposed to be #borrowingBolly (yeah right!) and Mummy Groom rides him the rest of the week I am really chuffed with our progress so far. Onwards and upwards!

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